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I Don’t Know How You Can Do This

Or the other statements, “I could never do this” and “It takes a special person to be able to do this.”

These words are usually uttered by family members who walk into an ICU room to see me calmly managing a patient on drips and vent, hooked up to monitors and other various tubes and wires.  I’m sure these words are spoken many many times every day all over the world.

I appreciate hearing it, but it always makes me think of the jobs that I could never do. Sure, there are lots of jobs that I’d simply be unhappy doing, but there are a few that I’d almost rather starve than do.

I could never be a dentist or hygienist.  I cannot handle dealing with teeth.  If I see that my intubated patient has a loose tooth, I’m done for.

I could never be an exterminator.  In fact, I was talking to an exterminator the other day (If you don’t live in California, you are probably not aware that it is, in fact, resting atop a gigantic ant hill).  He was friendly and chatty and I myself mentioned that I don’t know how he was able to do what he does because I literally shiver with disgust at the mere PICTURE of a large bug.  He then asked what I did and I replied that I was a nurse.  He looked at me for a moment and said that the site of blood completely freaks him out.  There’s no way he’d ever work in the medical field.

Within my own profession, I can imagine doing almost any type of nursing.  That isn’t to say that I’d enjoy it or even be good at it.  But there is one branch of nursing that I will never go into.  There is one patient population that I cannot even begin to cope with taking care of, and that is burn patients.  I don’t know how you can cause someone so much pain day in and day out, even if it’s in the name of healing.   Any burn unit nurses out there?  How on earth do you work in such a unit?

What are some jobs that you could never do?

*This blog post was originally published at code blog - tales of a nurse*

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